tv Charlie Rose PBS December 15, 2010 12:00pm-1:00pm EST
architecture and it is not pre-written and i don't know the end of this movie now. all i know is that what is happening in kosovo is of tremendous importance not only to the people of kosovo-- although they are the primary ones concerned-- but also to the future of the atlantic alliance and america's role in europe. >> we didn't try to tell milosevic, you know, you have to be interested in peace. he would say "you don't do this and i guarantee you europe is going to squeeze the hell out of your continuery. you're going to pay and you're not going to be in power. i don't care. you think you're the strongest dictator in this part of the world. it won't last." that's how he would talk to them. >> i worked with him briefly in the state department when he was assistant secretary of state and i was the emissary to cyprus, a position that he had held at one time and the people that he had around him that were his outgoings, people who were learning from him, it was incredible. he was always giving of himself to the younger generation.
is he had a deep sense that people who were vulnerable in the world deserved american protection. i think if you went around and asked the humanitarian community was there ever a strong spokesman for their causes, it was always going to be richard. >> rose: richard holbrooke and friends next. maybe you want to provide meals for the needy. or maybe you want to help when the unexpected happens. whatever you want to do, members project from american express can help you take the first step. vote, volunteer, or donate for the causes you believe in at membersproject.com. take charge of making a difference.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: the world of state craft suffered a huge loss this week with the death of richard holbrooke. he died monday evening after undergoing 212 hours of surgery for a torn aorta. he was 69 years old. for almost 50 years, richard holbrooke was on the front line of national security and policy. he was currently serving as president obama's special representative for afghanistan and pakistan. his career began in vietnam where he was a field officer for u.s. aid and served in the american embassy in saigon. in 1968 he attended the paris peace talks as a junior member of the u.s. delegation. in the carter administration he became the youngest assistant
secretary of state in u.s. history at age 35, overseeing east asia and pacific affairs. in 1993, president bill clinton named him ambassador to germany. in 1994, he turned to the crisis in the balkans as assistant secretary of state for european affairs. for most of us, his name is synonymous with the 1995 dayton accords, the peace deal that ended the conflict in bosnia. that agreement was the result of what holbrooke did best: countless plane rides, meetings in dangerous places, cajoling and bullying, bluffing and strong arming. he continued to care about europe and was key to the expansion of nato into poland, hungary and the czech republic. richard holbrooke was more than a diplomat. he served on the boards of the asia society, the council on foreign relations and refugees international. he was the author of an acclaimed memoir of his work in bosnia. so many words and anecdotes describe him. he was larger than life in body and mind. he was brilliant and patient, fierce and tenacious. former secretary of state henry kissinger once said that if richard asked you to do
something you should just say yes because if you say no, you'll eventually get to yes but the journey will be very painful. general david petraeus observed it is every commander's dream to have a diplomatic partner nicknamed the bulldozer. but for all of the swagger there was always his moral core, his outrage at injustice, his belief in the humanitarian mission. dick holbrooke was on this program nearly 50 times. he was my guest host when i was in the hospital for heart surgery. he twice offered to get me medevaced out of europe when i fell seriously ill. and he was scheduled to be on this program on friday of this week. we mourn his death and our thoughts are with his family, his wife, his brother andrew, his sons david and anthony and his step children, elizabeth and christopher jennings. tonight we remember richard holbrooke with conversations ant him and conversations with him. we begin with strobe talbott, president of the brookings institution and deputy secretary of state under president clinton and a good friend of richard holbrooke's. what was it he could do?
>> well, a lot of words that are often used to describe the prototypical diplomat don't apply to our friend richard. among other things, he wasn't always diplomatic. he had a kind of a steamroller of a personality. he didn't have much time for the niceties and rituals of washington, d.c. or even of the profession. he was totally focused on figuring out what the problem was, figuring out what it would take to get it solved and then just moving heaven and earth and god help anybody or anything that was in his way to get that accomplished. and as a result, he was controversial he had his scans both within the government and with other governments but i think as we're seeing in this extraordinary outpouring of
sentiment, testimonials in the last day or so, even people who got roughed up by him realized it was by and large for a good cause. >> rose: well, he's often been described as the best of our generation in terms of understanding the complexities of foreign policy and how to get things done. it's also said that he... the secretary of state job, position exceeded his grasp because of personality more than talent. >> i don't buy that. there's just an awful lot of capriciousness in life. and the job falls to people depending on... whatever job falls to people depends a lot on luck and whether the stars are in alignment. i think people who have held and indeed, do hold positions of secretary of state, many of them would recognize that richard
would have brought a great deal to that. but the point is he didn't get that job. he would have loved to have that job, of course, but he was able to take the jobs that he did have and punch way above the weight that came with being an assistant secretary of state for east asia back when he was niz n his 30s or ambassador to the u.n. he was much more than just another ambassador to the u.n. he was much more than just an ambassador to germany. he was much more than just an assistant takt for europe. and those are all important jobs. but when richard held those jobs, he accomplished a whole lot more than came exofficio, as it were. and he did it by force of will and determination and having the right values and the right goals. >> rose: did he have some understanding of the way the world worked and how to stimulate this person, how to connect this person, how to promise, how to cajole, how to argue, how to push, how to demand, how to get you to say
yes when you start with no? >> sure. and he did that a lot. i mean, the headline accomplishment of his career-- although by no means the only accomplishment of his career or even... there are other contenders, i think, for it. but the one that, of course, is playing in the lead paragraphs of a lot of the obituarys is bringing peace to the balkans. we talk about a problem from hell. talk about a mission impossible. and he had to deal with some of the nastiest s.o.b.s on the planet. and get them to say yes to each other, get them to say yes to the united states, and then make them stick to what they had said yes to. and i can't imagine anybody else pulling off what he did at dayton. >> rose: what did he do? i mean, how did he do it? >> well, he did it through a combination of a superb mind, an ability to master the facts of the situation, put together an argument which absolutely
critically would appeal to the self-interest of whoever it was he was talking to, milosevic, his big vich, the head of the bosnian muslims, tudjman, the head of the croatians, and make a case to each one of them not that they were supposed to do something altruistic, that wasn't going to work, it generally doesn't work and particularly wasn't going work with people like that, but make the case that it was in their interest to close ranks around the deal that he was putting together to bring peace to bosnia. and then not to give up. i mean, you talk about turning a no into yes. well, you know, one way to do that is just to beat the other guy down and i'll say as a friend and somebody who was, broadly speaking, always on his side and in fundamental ways definitely on his side, you know i had plenty of arguments with richard.
and he was just... he was relentless. now... but one other point about that. determined as he was to get his way in an argument, he was not just a powerful arguer and talker. he also listened. and that is one of the key requirements of diplomacy. i think it's one of the key requirements of being a successful human being. but in any event he really did listen to what his interlocutor or what his adversary was saying and if he saw a weakness in his own argument he would make an adjustment accordingly and then press on until he got to yes. >> rose: strobe talbott, thank you for taking time to come talk about your friend richard holbrooke. >> it was my pleasure, charlie, and thank you so much for doing the program. >> rose: we'll be right back. here is richard holbrooke himself talking about his own experience in bosnia. >> we did do something then. i feel that was quite an
accomplishment. >> rose: tell me more about that how you feel about what you did there. >> i have to feel good. >> rose: not feel good. you feel that this was a challenge that gave you an opportunity to prove what you were worth and whether you could apply all the lessons you'd learned from all the people you'd worked with? >> well, there are two sides of this, the personal and the more abstract. and the abstract side, anyone who has a chance to do something which results in lies that are not destroyed, refugees are allowed to return and a tremendously dangerous situation can feel pretty good about it, although, as i say in the book repeatedly, we could have done better had we started earlier and done more. on the personal side, as you just mentioned, i'd always ever since the vietnam negotiations, which you mentioned in your introduction, i had wanted to test myself against the toughest negotiations in the world. i thought it would be interesting to try and i
discussed this with you on your program long before fate cast me in that spot and i got a chance and did the best i could. >> rose: to see how good you are? to see if you could apply what you learn? >> it's like mountain climbing. i mean, why do you climb mountains? well, maybe you don't, but why do people climb mountains? you test yourself. >> rose: because they're there. >> yeah, and bosnia was the mount everest of diplomatic problems. you know, there's a poem at the end of the book by matthew arnold in the acknowledgments which sort of encapsulated how i felt. it's the beginning of the acknowledgments. it's a stunning poem. there it is. and you might want to read it to your readers. it's beautiful. >> rose: but often in the world's most crowded streets, but often in the den of strife there rises an unspeakable desire after the knowledge of our buried life. a thirst to spend our fire and restless force in tracking out our true original ours. aa longing to enquire into the mystery of the heart which
speaks so wild, so deep in us to know whence our lives come and ere they go. matthew arnold. >> rose: isn't that some poem? i just found that while i was writing the book and it sort of answers your question better than i could. >> rose: the first national telecast of this program was january 4, 1993. among the guests that night 17 years ago, richard holbrooke. he would go on to become a presence on this program, a participant in our expanding conversation. here are excerpts from those conversations. let me just show this, this is a powerful story to tell before we say good-bye. these are little things that you can see, come into this and you can see that these are your conversations with some people, some men who had been in these death camps. >> rose: these two things were made by a baker in the man jack a prison camp. this is a cigarette lighter and... a cigarette holder. he carved these out of wood with a piece of broken glass and he wanted the american public to
see how they were bound if you turn them around. their hands were behind them and they had to keep their head down or else they'd get beaten. and they're extraordinarily moving. i hope they show up in television, charlie. but he gave them to me four days ago near zagreb in a refugee camp and said "please show these to the american people, this is what the serbians are doing to us." we set off by helicopter, landed on top of the mountain and divided, general clark and i went into the humvee and my three colleagues and two staff people, a security guy, got into the back of the french armored personnel carrier. and about an hour later high up in the mountain we passed a french convoy which got up against the side of the mountain and we went around the outside. and just as we got to the end, somebody stopped our car and said something and we got out and somebody said in french "the
vehicle behind you went over the side." and we ran back about 50 yards and we could see the armored personnel carrier had disappeared and looked like a plow had just cut down the trees and we could hear people yelling below us. but we didn't think it was very serious at this point. we thought it was 75 yards below us and they might be banged up. and we immediately started down the side. it was extremely steep. and as we... we got about five yards below the face of the road and land mines started going off and machine gun fire and small arms fire and the french started yelling "get back, there are mines in the area." so with our flak jackets and helmets on we started running-- literally running-- down the road for about a kilometer. and we got to the next lip and the armored personnel carrier had hit a rock, bounced over the road and kept going. and then we knew we were in an
unbelievable situation. and... because i was the only person that spoke both french and english i stayed up in the road and general clark went down on a road with the french and we started communicating by walkie-talkie and gradually the enormity of what had happened hit us. and we came back down the mountain, reported to the president and spent the rest of the day collecting our comrades and trying to get out. >> rose: tell me what you saw and earl and did it change your mind or did it cause you even greater concern? >> it caused me to wonder about my sanity. (laughs) >> rose: because it seems insurmountable? >> it's not that it's insurmountable. americans never quit. we've surmounted other tngs, we'll survive. whatever happens, i believe in our strength and i also believe that if we focus our resources and bring them together we can
be much more effective. but the situation on the ground is serious in both countries. the additional 17,000 troops approved by the president a few days ago are absolutely necessary to stop the deterioration and we'll move on from there. some people said "you should have waited for the end of the strategic review to send the troops." that option was not available given the situation that president obama inherited on day one of his presidency. it was a very bad can of worms and it needed a little injection if you'll pardon the mixed metaphors. now, what we have to do next is to finish the strategic review, clarify to the world, to the nation, and to ourselves what we're doing in this part of the world. a lot of people ask questions. there are obvious answers which we can discuss in a minute. but we want to make it clear
from an integrated form and then marshal our resources and that of other countries for a political counterinsurgency diplomatic international effort which has to involve on the international front all of afghanistan's neighbors. and when i say "all," i use that word very deliberately. that would include china-- which has a common border with afghanistan of about 90 miles but it's important to them. india-- which is a near neighbor. pakistan, russia-- a near neighbor with a long and unfortunate history. pakistan, obviously. farther farther afield saudi arabia, turkey and our nato allies are involved and there's one other country on the west... >> rose: iran. >> very good. >> rose: (laughs) >> you know, after 20 years of doing this show, often with me, you're really on top of this today, charlie. >> rose: (laughs) jody cantor wrote a profile of
you in the "new york times." >> i didn't see it, charlie. >> rose: (laughs) i'm sure i did. >> i saw a picture of my wife in the "new york times" sitting on a soviet tank. >> rose: she said the following "richard holbrooke was chosen because he can twist arms and hold hands, work closely with the military, improvise inventive solutions to insoluble problems." all of that she said. >> oh, charlie, that's so sweet. >> rose: (laughs) "but know one knows how his often pyro technical style, he often whispers but also bluffs, threatens, stages fits and publicizes, will work on this stage." >> stages fits? my fits aren't staged, they're real. >> rose: i'll you what... go ahead. >> i don't know what your question is. >> rose: do you find that an accurate description? >> you'd have to ask somebody else. you and i have known each other for... gosh, almost 35 years. you make your own decision. >> rose: how this turns out is going to be one of the most extraordinary stories of the next four years.
>> it is. it is a daunting thing and some people say why did you accept this? they say it's mission impossible. we're doing a worldwide appeal. one of the things that's kind of interesting is that we've done this new technology which we also did in haiti where you can take your cell phone, text ", is w-a-t" and then send it to 50555. that will... and then you punch yes and that means $10. but it's interesting. when we did this for haiti, we raised millions of dollars. when we did it for swat refugees last year, we raised a couple million. so far we've raised very little. until tonight and i hope this program helps change it. why? because people don't relate to a flood the way they do to an earthquake or tsunami which hits then it's over, the press comes in and does the incredible stories of rescues, people have survived. here the press can't get in,
charlie. we don't know what's happening on the ground. all we have is aerial photos so far. >> rose: everybody should be doing everything they can, but it seems to me that the united states having the kind of presence and commitment it has to afghanistan and pakistan, you know, it's an opportunity to both do well and do good. >> we absolutely agree with you. and the president is very conscious of this. and we had a discussion of this... >> rose: a very visible demonstration of america's commitment to... >> yeah. my friend and colleague tom donelan, deputy national security advisor, chaired a meeting at the white house this morning and made that exact point. and we all are conscious of it. we... it's very simple. if we do the right thing it will be good not only for the people whose lives we save but for the u.s. image in pakistan. it's simple. and so i'm focused only on the rescue mission and to get the word out. >> rose: conversations with richard holbrooke. i first met him in 1974. he was managing editor for the
journal of foreign policy, i was managing editor of bill moyers international report, a pbs program devoted to foreign policy. we have been in contact constantly for 35 years. he never failed to mention how long we had known each other and the road we traveled that had brought us to where we are. he was light years ahead of me in understanding foreign policy and the role of diplomacy. with his help, i have spent the last three decades trying to catch up. i saw him last wednesday with his wife katya at a book party at the new york public library. we talked about his appearance on my program this friday where he would talk about the afghanistan/pakistan review. then we went to a dinner where he was speaking. as i entered the restaurant, he was for some reason in the lobby probably to take a phone call, something he was always doing. as i came in, he said "they're not going to start until we get there." typical richard. some truth, lots of flattery. wednesday was the last time i saw him. i thought a lot about that today on a plane ride back from san francisco to record this appreciation. what did it mean to be holbrooke? what was his magnetism?
strip it all away and it was his commitment. he wanted to do things, to get things done, to make the world better. people were his agents. he cared about what they did. his life was the art of diplomacy writ large, using the power of argument and relationships to achieve a goal he was convinced was worth it-- worth everything. some rolodex he had, some ability to connect the dots, to make the link between argument, personality, journalism, and human behavior. and talk about friends from across the planet. he knew everybody, most of them powerful, but many simply a concern of the heart because they had no power themselves. and so we conclude this evening with three of his best friends, attorney dick beattie, fellow diplomat and president emeritus of the council of foreign relations, les gelb. and frank wisner, a manhole
brook described to me as the wisest diplomat he knew. i am pleased to have these men at this table for this evening of conversation about somebody that they love. it will not be easy for them because this was a moment that has brought to them the powerful sense of something gone that they cared about. so i begin with frank wisner who has known richard holbrooke for a long time, and ask him to reflect on a friend. >> great honor to be asked and a moving experience. i have known richard holbrooke since 1965 in saigon and there isn't a moment in his career or in mine since that date that i have not been associated with him. i have, like so many, be impressed with his intelligence, his force, his drive. but when i sit back and think today about those aspects of his life and career that impress me
the most was his tremendous sense of humanity. he had a view that people in the world who suffer require solace and require his presence. he rushed to refugees in the south china seas, the boat people. he was quick at the time of dayton to move to try to preserve life in the former yugoslavia, in bosnia. and he was deeply moved in this most recent tragedy in pakistan. literally, physically rallying aid to help people. there was in richard holbrooke a quality of friendship for those of us who were privileged to enjoy it. i cannot imagine a more lyle and caring friend than i had over these near 45 years and i'll miss him sorely. >> rose: we'll come back.
dick beattie, i remember you at his side at his confirmation. >> at his very difficult confirmation when he was named to be ambassador the u.n. it was a tough couple of months for him. but he weathered it and he weathered it very, very well. and i remember so vividly that moment when jesse helms indicated that he wanted to talk to dick, asked him to come up to the front of the hearing room, leaned across, shook his hand and said "you're gonna make it." because he was one of the people that was standing in the way. and holbrooke was... i mean, it was an incredible moment for him. a moment that he had worked so hard for for so long through those hearings and investigation. it was just wonderful to see. we're going to miss him dearly. i'm privileged, as frank said, to be here also and to have been his friend. >> rose: i should say, dick
beattie has a christmas party and richard would have been there to celebrate and we all would sing christmas carols. i think you were there on wednesday night, were you not? >> yes. >> rose: so tell me. you've known a lot of foreign policy people, you are of that place. >> dick holbrooke and i met 44 years ago and have been fast friends, at each other's side in all our battles. foreign policy battles and our personal battles. you know, one thing you have to... we're all just terribly sad because he... we were such fast friends with this guy. but our relationships with him-- frank and dick and myself, a few
others-- were constantly teasing fighting, cajoling, arguing about everything. nothing was sacred in these relationships. >> rose: were you in combat with him, an argument about the afghan/pakistan issue? >> sure, about that, no question about that. >> rose: in other words, where you stand? >> well, we used to argue for the fun of arguing anyway. in the case of afghanistan and pakistan, it was particularly difficult. >> rose: holbrook only won an argument with les when he wore him out and he had to leave the room because holbrooke was still going. >> i said i'd give up more hours of listening to you more than i can take. (laughter) >> rose: is that why he was a good diplomat, frank? >> he could wear down the position. >> let me tell you what a four-hour conversation with dick holbrooke was like. he spoke 3:45 and you inched out 15 minutes. (laughter) >> this is something we all learned, richard holbrooke was
not comfortable if he wasn't controlling the conversation and if he wasn't controlling you. very important. he ran my life, or attempted to, for the years that i knew him. and i must say i generally got a good steer from him. >> people... >> rose: people seem to accept the sign of go, to accept and almost be amused by it. >> well, we were. >> some people were, we were. (laughter) >> look, there were loads of people who had nothing but complaints. we laughed at them. >> absolutely. >> because they didn't understand what we understood: that this guy wanted to be a great man because he knew great men mick history. and dick holbrooke wanted to make history. that really mattered to him. >> absolutely. and the people that complained, the personality traits that they complained about were usually the same personality traits that
they had. they just figure out a way to be more settle about it. >> rose: that's right, there was no subtlety. >> there was no subtlety with richard. you knew where he was. >> although he thought he was subtle. >> rose: (laughs) i know, that's a great thing. he would come on this program and say "as i said on this great program, as you and i talked about" knowing that i understood he was just sort of flattering me. >> he predicted the stock market crash. (laughter) >> rose: exactly. let me talk a minute about bosnia, because there were many people who thought he should have won a nobel prize for that. >> rose: >> he should have. >> rose: and he should have, in your judgment. >> absolutely. >> rose: what's the significance? put in the history and put his achievement under the microscope >> well, i'll argue even without dick at this table it's much more fun when dick was at this table. the cold war was over and the world was trying to figure out
how to kill people and get away with it. a new way of doing it, ethnic cleansing. and unless it could be dealt with right up front, it was going to get totally out of control. it was bad enough when it happened elsewhere, but this was a first test case and dick jumped on it long before we actually got involved and did some of it. >> rose: that's true so, les. you know, i remember when he came back he had found himself in sarajevo looking down on the street and watching a group of serbian thugs beating up on some people and it just got to him. but i think another feature of richard holbrooke that i keep in mind was his deep sense of history and he knew that what went on in the former yugoslavia what went on in bosnia was a
real threat to the security of europe. and we, the united states, had a responsibility. and we had to intervene. the europeans would not be able to bring about these on their own. there was a role for american diplomacy, as long as we gathered our courage and put our wit to it. as opposed to standing back and let the forces take over and let the europeans argue about it, holbrook was determined for the united states to play a role because we were a guarantor of european security. and if you could bring about security? southeastern europe, you could bring about security in bosnia, europe would finally be free and hole and safe and that was the whole course of american diplomacy towards europe since 1945. >> he... all the obituarys are saying that was his signal achievement, his major achievement. did he see it this that way? was this the thing that he bought and defined?
>> he wanted it to be afghanistan and pakistan. >> he wanted it to be the next challenge. he didn't focus on and think about what he had done before. he was moving on to another challenge, moving on the another situation where he could help people, he could help humanity, as frank said. he didn't well on it. >> we spent countless hours with dick talking about this because this was in his guts. we're not talking about an intellectual problem. it was in his guts to try to make a peace in afghanistan and to try to create some stability, help create some stability in pakistan. and he knew he had met his match so he was... >> rose: he said it was the hardest thing he'd ever done. >> sure it was. but look right off the bat he understood how to deal with hamid karzai, the president of afghanistan. his first meeting he goes in
there and boffo. and karzai, of course, complains. >> rose: boffo was what? you've got corruption here? >> you've got an inefficient government, you're not doing anything with the army, the security forces. he says what he should say. karzai does the predictable thing with people in the world. karzai says "you can't say that to me, i'm never going to allow you back in the room." the united states government, the president of the united states should have backed dick holbrooke on that play. because he was telling hamid karzai the only way we had a chance of doing something in afghanistan. instead they said "oh, all right he doesn't have to... dick holbrooke doesn't have to see karzai, we'll work around it." at that point hamid karzai knew he had us. and for the next two years look what he did. dick understood exactly how to go after it but couldn't do it. couldn't be allowed to do it. >> the other thing, charlie, you
said before that he said several times thathis was the toughest assignment, toughest challenge he's ever had. but he never slowed down. he never stopped. he was going at it all the time. >> rose: even though people were saying slow down. don't get on another plane and go for another trip because you better take care of yourself. >> and he wasn't doing that. >> you can't win that argument with him. >> rose: (laughs) >> he wouldn't stop. >> i think you're absolutely right but there were a couple of other forces that motivated dick here. i believe that he really believed we had to bring this war to an end and the only way to do it was to get a political definition around the war. it that you had to stabilize your relations with pakistan and so he focused a single minded jewel on building ties with the pakistani leadership that had gone fallow over the years.
he created a major dialogue between military civilian pakistanis and the americans so that we could work toward a common set of outcomes. but then richard holbrooke looked at this region as a whole, that you could not get peace at the end of the american involvement if you didn't have the indians and the pakistanis and the afghans all focused on really important priorities. the radicalists. and that's where he was working. working towards that objective when he was taken from us. and i think it will go down in our memory of his major contribution to the region was to take this war from the military conflict and make it into a policy that we could manage in order to protect our national interests, to get our solders to come home. >> but you see, he also
understood and had a deep pessimism about this. he fought it but he had a pessimism. he understood we had gone through over the last 30, 40 years the militarization of u.s. foreign policy. he talked about it all the time. >> rose: and diplomacy had lost its... >> had lost its power and the military ran the show, particularly if you were in conflict. they called the shots. they had all the resources, they had all the manpower and he's supposed to... dick had the job of building the afghan institution but it's the military that's got all the oomph to get that job done. he has hardly any. so he worried about that all the time. including and what frank was talking about, namely trying to begin to test the ground to see if we could make some deal with some taliban. and it was very interesting, very pragmatic about it. he didn't think the taliban were good guys.
dick holbrooke is one hard-headed son of a b. >> rose: right. >> but he wanted to put the money on the table and see if they'd take it. if they'd take it they were moderate taliban. if they didn't, he had to deal with them some other way. >> rose: but he wanted to find out. >> he wanted to find out. >> rose: okay. but was he... all the stories there were that were there about richard has lost his influence within in inner councils. one magazine said he was worried about being fired. was that myth or was that truth? was his relevance as strong? because the secretary of state was his great backer. >> i personally believe that the sniping that goes on in washington and can become quite vicious nonetheless richard holbrooke knew that he had several things that were really important. he knew his subject, he had a
strong relationship with mrs. clinton. he had built a powerful set of ties to the afghans, to the pakistanis, to some 30 other nations. >> rose: and the indians. >> and the indians. and perhaps most of all he knew that his own achievements in life, his reputation, protected him from the kind of silly sniping that goes on in the battle of ideas in washington. he was secure. there was no serious rival. >> rose: but it was ruff. >> it was ruff. >> rose: that's what i'm asking you. you can't be immune to that. >> no, he was not immune to it. but he had a toughness about him that got him through it as he'd gotten through other periods in life. >> can i just add something to that because dick is making an
important point. dick thought it was his toughness and he was tough. but he was also a fragile guy and these things bothered him enormously. they would bother anyone and even someone as tough as dick holbrooke. >> rose: you saw his vulnerability on that? >> oh, sure, he didn't hide it from us. >> he was troubled by it. he was troubled particularly because these were people that he knew, people that he had worked with over a long period of time and there was just a lot of nonsense sniping going nonthat group, and that's got to bother anybody. he didn't understand what their... >> but he had... hillary clinton was his rock. he had support from admiral mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs. but otherwise it was hard for dick to navigate his way around this administration. >> rose: but petraeus said... petraeus said-- if you're a military man you want a diplomat whose nickname is bulldozer.
>> yes. >> but i would want the diplomatic bulldozer to be in charge of the general. (laughter) and that's what dick wanted to do. >> rose: he wanted to be in charge of the general. >> sure! >> rose: exactly. did he have an overriding philosophy about about america's role in the world? >> no question in my mind he believed in the responsibility of the united states not only to protect its own interests in a narrow way but the united states was a force for good. he had a deep sense that people who were vulnerable in the world deserved american protection. i think if you went around and asked the humanitarian community was there ever a strong spokesman for their causes it was always going to be richard. he would stand up for the mistreated in sudan, the
bosnians we've talked about. so hi spent an incredible amount of time... >> rose: he was on this program talking with me about the floods in pakistan. you've got to the do something about this. we have got to make the world more aware of the stakes. >> he had that moral imperative. >> but was he... was this guy more a doer than a thinker? was he more a man of action? >> he was both. >> that's an interesting question because he was both. he was a doer but he couldn't get done what he did without being a real thinker, without being a real intellectual. and understanding people. >> rose: what influenced the way he thought about things? first of all, there's history early on. >> that was his main thing. he could yes cite more history than you would ever want to hear. >> in one conversation. >> you could go for a car
ride... you could go on a car ride with him for a couple of hours through germany sometimes and he would tell you everything that went on in that valley as you were going down. and this is an incredible sense of history. >> rose: let me tell you something. frank hit on something very important. he was mr. humanitarianism. he was. i can't find anybody else on this globe who was ready to go to war for humanitarian causes at a senior level than dick. but people think it's a matter of dick holbrooke persuading the end of this country or that tribal chief to do this. he used charm and argument dick knew that they had to be moved by muscle. he was always active, twisting the arm, saying here's what we can do for you, here's what we can do to hurt you. it was not, how shall i put it, soft power? (laughter)
>> of course,... >> rose: he wanted to use soft power and that's what he was about in afghanistan in part. no, or not? >> no. i think no. >> rose: not for a second. >> no, because those people are not going to be moved by saying you know, it's in your interest to stop the corruption. that's not the way it works. >> you know, you talk about dealing with really hard-nosed people, i think all of us know the stories but they're worth remembering of richard going up against those serbian thugs in bosnia, mladic and karadzic and then his faceoff with milosevic over kosovo. and in the latter regard, it is richard who went and gave milosevic the message, you stop killing albanians you ratchet back your administration or we are going to go to war. and in the coldest and hardest session milosevic heard the
final warning of the united states and richard holbrooke had no problem delivering it. >> and the person receiving it had no problem understanding that his... that he had the credibility to say it. >> he did have it. milosevic chose to ignore it so his country ripped apart. that's another matter. but it was not for lack of utter clarity on holbrook's part about what he had to do and what the united states would do if milosevic didn't win. >> he didn't try to tell milosevic, you know, you have to be interested in peace. he would say you don't do this and i guarantee you europe is going squeeze the hell out of your country. you're going to pay and i don't care. you think the strongest dictator in this part of the world? it won't last. that's how he would talk to them. >> rose: when you talk to him about... dick, about... beyond
being secretary of state, goal of ambition that was there. what else did he... what did he talk about his ambition and how he wanted to be rememberd? was there ever a conversation or was he too much thinking about tomorrow and never a moment thinking about yesterday >> he was interested in the next challenge. interested in the next place where he could go and bring some relief to people who needed it so he could make a difference. he didn't think or at least i didn't hear him think of himself that way. >> there wasn't... there was not. he would have loved to have been secretary. i'm not disguising that. that was a dream of his. but it was not in order to be secretary of state. it was in order to do something. his quest... there was a restlessness about richard holbrooke of incapacity ever to say enough's enough.
there was the next challenge and that would have always motivated him right to the end. he was involved and engaged exactly where he wanted to be and that's the way it would have been had this dreadful health crisis not have brought him down. >> you know, dick was a difficult guy. but there were two things about that i mean in addition to being a great friend that made him endearing to us and i think invaluable to the nation. one was capacity. we always laughed among ourselves that there wasn't one dick holbrooke there was at least three dick holbrookes because he was watching the movie, the soccer game, talking about this, reading a book. >> rose: have you ever been at a dinner party with him where he didn't get up at least once to go take a phone call? >> no. >> or a meeting. >> rose: >> but there was not just one dick holbrooke, there was all sorts of dick holbrookess it was like winston churchill. there were five winston
churchills. and the other thing was the dedication to something else, something bigger. and they were always fused. of course dick was ambitious. of course he wanted to be secretary of state but it was used to a cause. so the capacity, the cause, that... the capacity for friendship, too, endearing him to us so he could put up with anything. >> rose: let me just ask this for history's sake les, frank, dick, if in fact john kerry had been president, would dick holbrooke had been secretary of state? >> i hope so. >> i hope so but i don't know. >> there's no way of knowing, charlie. >> rose: if hillary clinton president? >> if al gore... you can imagine it. there would have certainly been plenty of people who would have screamed and complained but we won't know what the circumstances will be. we know that... what we do know is there was no finer foreign policy mind in our generation
than richard holbrooke. nobody better able to deliver the goods, nobody better able to build a team of loyal people around it. nobody who believed more deep the profession of foreign affairs than dick holbrooke. >> rose: let me put it this way. of course the man wanted to be secretary of state but we all wanted him to be secretary of state. we thought he was that good, that much better than all the other possibilities. >> rose: if, in fact, both of you said that if you could go to people with the experience in the two of you had and friends as strong as dick is with richard holbrooke there would be overwhelming consensus that he was the foreign policy person of his generation in terms of the ability to see what had to be done and the capacity to get it
done. >> it takes a lot of gets to get it done. >> and there isn't even a close second. i mean, he was so far out in front, he was so the person. there's nobody else you can think of even comes close to richard. it's amazing. he had such incredible power. >> we were all talking among ourselves the last few days. we had to talk to each other constantly to deal with this. >> and we cried a little bit together, too. >> that the response in the country's world was the death of a major foreign policy statesman. that's how people treated him. and as far as we were concerned that was the way to treat him. >> les put his finger on it. dick, i bet you agree, the years... he was never secretary of state, there had been many ambassadors to the u.n., he was never a member of the cabinet,
and yet the outpouring of sentiment about richard holbrooke brings to the fore his own special contribution across europe, a cross asia, he was seen as the representation of american authority but an authority that cared about good outcomes in the world. and it's that sentiment, that you see in all of the expressions of foreign leaders these days about his passage. just heard tonight that they will be naming a street for him in tblisi, in georgia. >> really? >> and the messages that have come in from around the globe. it's a bit of a recognition of the importance america has in the world today that holbrook believed in the mission of america and people are signaling that and signaling their
distress over his departure. >> rose: do you think he understood and appreciated that, dick, that there was this sort of remarkable sense of appreciation of him while he was alive? >> no, i don't think he did and i don't think... in fact, that was particularly important to him. he knew what he wanted to do, he knew what he felt he had to do for this country, for people around the world and he was going to do it. i don't think he thought about that. obviously he would have liked it we all would have liked it. but i don't think that was important to him. >> rose: just a final point. beyond all of this, he was also a person who thought about the next generation of foreign policy people. and was not only pointing them out and bringing them in but also promoteing them to a network of friends that he knew. >> every job he had he developed the next generation.
there are now... i don't know how you mark generations at this point. every three years we have a new generation. but every job he had he took in that next generation, mentored them and basically mentored them in good values and something that's really missing in our society that he knew how to do well, get things done. and they talked about it all the time. >> be fearless. >> this guy knew how to get things done. >> i worked with him briefly in the state department when he was assistant secretary of state and i was the emissary to sigh bruce, a position he held at one time and the people that he had around him were people that were learning from him. it was incredible. and he would spend time with them. he was always giving of himself to the younger generation. he was even giving of himself... i introduced some young kids that wanted to know what it was like, wanted to think about the foreign service. he would take time, half an hour
to talk to him whenever he was asked. >> or he would give the three of us advice all the time, too. (laughter) >> we needed it. (laughter) >> rose: thank you, les, thank you, dick. >> thank you for giving us this time. >> rose: and thank you, richard holbrooke, for an extraordinary life that has as someone said today, he left the world a better place because he was there. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org